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Mother Nature’s sending out mixed messages

This frcame out near lakefront Waukegan because warm weather. | SPECIAL TO THE NEWS-SUN

This fron came out near the lakefront in Waukegan because of the warm weather. | SPECIAL TO THE NEWS-SUN

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THIS BIG ONE DIDN’T GET AWAY

Fifteen-year-old Nick Tassoni of Rockford broke the state record for biggest walleye caught in Illinois waters when he pulled this one out of the Pecatonica River in Winnebago County (near Rockford). It weighed 14-pounds, 12-ounces and was 31 inches long. He was fishing with his father, David, last Saturday afternoon when he landed the big one. The old record was a 14-pounder caught in the Kankakee River in 1961. Nick, a freshman at Auburn High School in Rockford, used a Rapala minnow-rap lure on Berkley Trilene Big Game 10-pound line. He had a Falcon Carolina Lizzard Dragger road and an Ambassadeur 5000 reel. “We congratulate Nick Tassoni on catching a beautiful fish and commend this young man and his father for being alert to the fact that they had a big one that might be a record-setter,” said Dan Sallee, regional administrator for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Division of Fisheries. “Nick’s fish easily erased a more than 50-year-old record for walleye, and this catch speaks to the fun families can have while fishing in Illinois.”

Updated: February 15, 2012 8:05AM



The lingering warm weather we had until recently had some people worried about plants and animals, and there were some odd sightings.

At the Chicago Botanic Gardens in Highland Park, they were reporting some blooming buds, and they were placing extra mulch on plants as our first big snow and cold front approached this week.

But you have to remember that these plants and animals have been dealing with the whims of Mother Nature for how many thousands of years?

The most interesting sight came to me through Lake County Audubon’s Chris Geiselhart.

She forwarded an e-mail that had pictures of a large frog and a smaller one that decided to come out of hibernation.

Steve Jansen and Judy Bock of Grayslake were down at the South Channel, Waukegan Dunes, in Waukegan recently when they spotted a tiny frog on the ice of an industrial wastewater treatment outfall channel pond that was formed by a small beaver dam.

“Hind legs comically slipped on ice with each attempt to hop,” she wrote. The temperature was 48 degrees.

This appears to be a northern leopard frog and they also saw a smaller chorus frog as well.

Michael Dreslik, a herpetology expert with the Illinois Natural History Survey, said don’t worry much about the Western chorus frog because it is very cold-tolerant and comes out in mid-February to mate anyway.

“If you see 20, 30 or 40, then you might raise an eyebrow of concern,” he said, recounting how he had a teacher who once saw turtles swimming around under the ice.

The frogs can make it through the weather changes as long as there is not a swift freeze.

On that note, join The Habitat Project Calling Frog Survey 2012.

Workshops are intended for both beginning and experienced monitors.

Learn and review the calls of 13 species of frogs and toads.

Experienced monitors are encouraged to attend in order to learn any protocol changes, obtain data sheets, review frog calls, and share lessons learned with new monitors.

In Lake County, the workshop is Feb. 21 from 7-9 p.m. at Ryerson Conservation Area’s Welcome Center, 21950 N. Riverwoods Road, Deerfield — about a mile south of Half Day Road.

Contact Gary Glowacki (847) 968-3264.

For other workshops in Chicagoland area go to Chicagowilderness.org.

NICC ice-fishing derby

Speaking of weather, the Northern Illinois Conservation Club’s oldest continual winter event in Illinois can use some ice for its 52nd annual Ice Fishing Derby and Winter Festival on the Chain O’ Lakes on Feb. 11-12.

Right now, we just need ice, but there’s time.

Once before, they had a massive warmup before the fund-raiser and were forced to put planks down because the shore ice had melted.

“We will not cancel” has been their motto since the beginning.

Mark your calendars and know they have a ice shanty contest for most creative and best crafted, raffles and lots of prizes for fish.



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